TNT - Transistor
After the release of the dismal "Firefly" album, alot of hardcore TNT fans were more than just a little disappointed and sceptical about the band's next release. "Firefly" was another one of those albums where a metal band tries to go almost alternative it seems... either because they 'sold out' or as they claim, to go in the musical direction their careers and tastes are pulling them in. A huge roadblock for "Firefly" was the production as well, which was beyond abysmal. However, after Tony Harnell popped up in late 98 and early 99 with the stellar "Westworld" release, under the banner Westworld, hopes skyrocketed for the next TNT offering, especially when rumours started circulating that it would be a return to the old TNT sound. So they finally unleashed their latest offering and well.... it was not exactly what we expected.

TNT has never been a band to sit on their laurels and allow little things like "recognizable band style" to get in their way or pay attention to things such as "formula". They are always mutating, changing, trying new things and sometimes it works and other times, it's "Firefly". Of course most people familiar with TNT are still waiting for "Intuition part II", and those that are locked into that mindset are going to be disappointed.

And that's a shame, because from start to finish "Transisitor" is a consistent album that treads grounds that no one has really taken to before. The sound is wholly unique, caught on this one disc and through all my listening years afterward, never have come across anything that was remotely similar. The sound is "modern" but still TNT. There are some super sized melodies that are caught simply on the reverberations of an abrasively catchy riff. Ronnie LeTekro's guitar playing is a little subdued here, in the sense that he doesn't turn the album into an AxeGod Shredding type of a release. His playing is tailored to fit the songs. Rhythm guitar often falls off into being a bit rawer edged and distorted at times, giving some songs an almost gritty feel, but the solos are crisp and clean.

The vocal performance by Tony Harnell is everything you would expect and more. He belts out some tracks in a metal type scream, others he soars to the sky with the angels, and yet others, his singing is pure and gentle. Stretching his range, and showing all the dark and light shades inbetween, just listening to him sing is worth the price of the album alone. Also of note are the lyrics, they are clever without just jumping out at you upon the first few spins. When warming up to the album, it was one of the last things I noted, and they just really surprised me in general with their intellegent bite or sweet nature. Of course the songs themselves are the kind of melody packed goodness that TNT always dishes out. Catchy, well written songs, compact in nature, the perfect length so they don't overstay their welcome, or become tedious or annoying. Spiced up with sprinkles of guitar and vocal heroics that bring out the true flavor and feel of the songs. In fact, this may be one of the best TNT albums, ever.

How could I possibly make such a statement? Easily, this album is loaded with memorable songs that are some of the best TNT has ever written, even with their slight modern influences and lean toward a rougher edged, rawer overall sound. Just look at what this band is serving up here this time, and you'll see the picture a bit more clearly. If you missed it the first time around, this is perfect opportunity to become acquainted with the "lost" classic of the TNT catalogue, and now that Harnell is out and they are making discs for comic relief, it's a sweet balm to silence some of those separation angst wounds that were left by a Harnell-less TNT.

The cream of the crop is where you least look for it. "Because I Love You" contains wonderful lyrics that are just made to be sung at high volume and the full range of Tony's pipes are put through the works. High flying screams, soft whispered passages that brush your eardrums as soft as dragonfly wings, and then careening back into full air raid siren mode over again. The riffs are huge and chunky, lending a thick backdrop to showcase the powerhouse voice that rips and roars over the music. The theme of waiting on a love that is not returned is refreshing in its devotion to the cause, making this one something special indeed. Sometimes you love with just no rhyme or reason, even when that emotion is all give with no hope of ever being on the receiving end.

"The Whole Your Inn" is even more modern, Harnell dropping his voice to this rough velvet growl, snarling accusations with the gritty flair of a court prosecutor. He rips apart the situation, flogs the female villain and torturer of his heart with that fierce roar and at the drop of a hat, goes from snarl to smooth vocal lines. It's an amazing performance, and coupled with a song that offers an equal share of bite, comes across as an example of brilliance. This is the proper way to weave modern touches into a melodic track. The bass line gets special notice by being the heartbeat thump of the song and just launched right into your face.

"Mousetrap" is another incredibly clever song, and keeps this frantic pace that is like a mouse being chased by a talon clawed feline through a zig zagging maze. Leaps, bounds, lightning skurries, Harnell bleeding his voice all over the track, ripping his throat to shreds as he paints this picture of a love that is not returned but he keeps chasing, and waiting. This thing is absolutely catchy, it burns images in your mind and begs to be replayed. The guitar solo is also spectacular, if short, and fits in the structures like a glove. All these years later, it's still one of their finest moments. Hectic, melodic and all.

This has to be the catchiest song in TNT history. Totally riff driven, it drives right on through with spectacular vocals, rich, pure and grabbing from the first verse. The lyrics are just *so* clever, backed up by a rhythm and a killer chorus to match. From the first moment I heard this frantic compact little tune, I was in love, and it hasn't worn off yet, a few hundred listens later. The solo, even in its shortness, is just perfect for the rest of the song. "Mousetrap" feels so good to listen to it should almost be a crime, my absolute favorite.

"Under My Pillow" is a stripped back and emotional ballad, its almost acoustic enough to have fit on the Morning Wood album (Tony's acousic project, 1993). The sound of "Pillow" is nearly completely acoustic with vocals, with Ronni's cousin doing some backing vocals, her soft pretty voice compliments the rest of the song, given another very strong melody by riding on the vocal prowess of the lead singer. Such gorgeous vocal harmonies and lapping acoustic, along with the sorrowful lyrics, give the song a delicate impression, until it kicks up well over halfway through, with drums and some distorted guitar, for about 50 seconds, until fade, and then the song takes back over as it begins to finish the circle. Close to brilliance.

Otherwise you have the melody packed chorus and acoustic weaving of the mid paced "Wide of Awake". "No Such Thing" with its addictive verses and deliciously thrown together rhythm guitars. "Crashing Down" and "Just Like God" are the two black sheep of the "Transistor" family. "Just Like" seems like a "Firefly" holdover and "Crashing Down" with its alterna-whine vocals. "No Guarantees" and "Into Pieces" are a bit too alternative, but the strength of the other songs make these just little blips on the radar.

The final verdict, is that even with a few totally clunker songs that would have been better fare for a crap album like Dokken's "Shadowlife", "Transistor" has enough going for it to make it a modern day classic. Songs like "Mousetrap", "Because I Love You", and "Wide Awake" are among some of the best the band has ever recorded. And they aren't the only good songs on the album, they are backed up with plenty of great tunes to keep the flow of the disk. I know alot of TNT fans have already written this album off to be added to the stacks of lame releases from other 'popular' 80s bands, but I urge them all to dig it back out and give it another spin. Those wonderful buried melodies are abundant on this disc, delivered and given life as only TNT can do it, and that is the heart and soul of what this band is about. "Transistor" is more than just a good album, its a pleasant surprise for all the fans who had become jaded after that "Firefly" debacle. An absolute must for anyone that craves more classy melodic metal that never falls into the cheese category, which puts TNT one step ahead of the rest.

Written by Alanna
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
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Comment by guitarman (Member) - Wednesday, August 4, 2010
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I tottaly agree with the review here! It's an album that grows on you. It also features some really good tunes!

Posted by guitarman
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review by Alanna

Released by
Spitfire - 1999

1. Just Like God
2. Wide Awake
3. No Such Thing
4. Crashing Down
5. Fantasia Espanolia
6. Because I Love You
7. The Whole Your Inn
8. Mousetrap
9. Into Pieces
10. Under My Pillow
11. No Guarantees

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My Religion - (Michael)

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Band Information - (Steen)

Live in Madrid - (Michael)

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